IN A NEW series of articles called Cue-Psych, The Old Green Baize explores the psychology side of snooker and how it can vary in many different ways and situations in the game.
And on the week of Judd Trump’s 25th birthday – Scott Hassall from psychology consultancy Thought Sport assesses how the Bristol star’s mental side of the game has adapted from his earlier days when he took the world by storm with his so-called naughty snooker.
Judd Trump: Looking beyond ‘naughty’ snooker to return to the summit.
Judd Trump seems to have been around the snooker scene a long time for a man so young – we must not forget he is only 25-years-old.
But for a man who had quickly risen to world number one at just the age of 23, since then things haven’t since gone all his own way.
We all know about the brand of ‘naughty’ snooker Judd has created, bringing an aggressive style to the table, looking to simply out pot his opponents from the get go. Whilst this approach proved effective when Judd was on his game it also led to his downfall when he could not fire on all cylinders.
From a psychological perspective Judd seems to always be full of confidence, something which may be a major factor in his ability to play ‘naughty’ snooker under the most intense pressure. However at the same time playing such an open and attacking game can also be seen as a lack of self-awareness.
Self-awareness is simply being able to identify one’s own strengths AND weaknesses, but also to take these observations and work on them to become a better player. So whilst ‘naughty’ snooker was fine in certain situations, Judd often showed a lack of self-awareness with such an aggressive style when perhaps not playing particularly well or against an opponent who is playing exceptionally well.
With all the technology available nowadays in terms of tracking pot success and safety success Judd appears to have took advantage of this in helping him become more self-aware, knowing when to take an aggressive approach and when to play a more cautious game.
Techniques often used to enhance self-awareness include getting a player to write down everything they can remember from getting up to going to bed in relation to their best and worst performances. For example a player may have gone to bed nice and early and had a nutritious breakfast along with a good and structured practise before a match. All these factors need repeating on a regular basis in order to help produce consistently high performance levels.
Having already adapted some of those qualities, we have seen Judd back to his best over the past year with a run to the German Masters final, almost reaching the World Championship semi-finals before a world class fightback from Neil Robertson and his return to silverware in the Australian Open all standing out.
Judd currently stands in 6th place in the world rankings, which whilst still admirable, he is more than £300,000 behind the top two of Robertson and Mark Selby in the new prize money list – which is a considerable amount.
With a long season ahead with more and more events it becomes vital that Judd continues to grow as a player and produce consistently high performances to close the gap. His levels of self-awareness and overall mindset could play a key part.